Gender and Governance in Rural Services

Good governance is an important factor in eradicating poverty; among other things, it can improve poor people’s access to agricultural and rural services. IFPRI researchers have been working on a project to improve local governance and rural-service provision in India, Ghana, and Ethiopia. The project aims to promote gender-sensitive governance-reform strategies, develop indicators to measure performance, and build capacity for inclusive local government. Such reform strategies include decentralizing service provision, reserving seats for women in local councils, and creating special administrative units to promote gender equity. The research findings indicate that current strategies to improve service provision have faced many challenges. For example, less than 5 percent of female farmers in Karnataka, India, and Ghana had access to visits from agricultural extension agents, compared to 20 percent in Ethiopia. In all three countries, the strategy to hand over management of agricultural services to local water and sanitation committees has had mixed success.